ED Wait Times Top ECRI Patient Safety Concerns

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The ECRI Institute’s Patient Safety Organization has identified over-crowding and long wait times in emergency departments as key factors in delays in treatment, patient dissatisfaction and in some cases unnecessary mortality.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services named ED patient flow in its 2012 reporting requirements, making it necessary that health care facilities accurately record arrival and departure times for emergency room patients, according to the ECRI's monthly briefing report. Two of the CMS measures focus on the time spent in the emergency department, one from arrival until departure or hospital admission and the other from the decision to admit until the actual departure from the ED.

Radiologists using integrated PACS platforms can play a major role in reducing emergency room turnaround times as evidenced by a recent story in Radinformatics about Riverside Radiology and Interventional Associates in Columbus, Ohio. Through a well-developed IT system, the practice reportedly brought turnaround times for ED visits down below 20 minutes.